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NYS Comptroller


Taxpayers' Guide to State and Local Audits

Department of Transportation
Performance Based Bus Safety Program

Issued: March 17, 2016
Link to full audit report 2015-S-71

To determine whether the Department has effectively implemented the Performance Based Bus Safety Program (Program) by focusing sufficiently increased inspection activity and enforcement actions on poor performing carriers and operators.

The State’s Transportation Law (Law) requires the Department to conduct a safety inspection of each bus every six months. In October 2013 the Department began to implement the Program by revising its bus inspection program to focus less on high-performing carriers and more on low-performing carriers. This strategy is intended to improve safety and compliance and establish a strong incentive for low-performing carriers to improve their operations. Under the Program, a carrier whose out-of-service (OOS) rate is less than ten percent is rated as Preferred, and each of its buses should receive one full comprehensive inspection and one critical item inspection each year. Critical item inspections are less intensive and time consuming, and focus only on vehicle components of greatest safety concern. A carrier whose OOS rate is between 10 and 25 percent is rated as Acceptable, and its buses continue to receive two comprehensive inspections annually. However, carriers whose OOS rate is 25 percent or more are rated as Unacceptable, and their buses receive two comprehensive inspections each year as well as additional reviews of other aspects of their operation such as examinations of records on drivers’ qualifications and hours of service, and vehicle maintenance histories.

Key Finding

  • We found that the Department effectively implemented the Program. The Department focused increased inspection activity on poorer performing carriers by conducting two full in-depth inspections on each bus, as well as additional inspections of other areas such as driver compliance and bus maintenance each year. The Department has also taken appropriate actions against poor performing carriers such as implementing corrective action plans that the carrier must complete, imposing fines, and, when necessary, suspending a carrier’s operating authority.

Key Recommendations

  • None

Other Related Audit/Report of Interest

Department of Transportation: Selected Aspects of the Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program (2012-S-13)

State Government Accountability Contact Information:
Audit Director: John Buyce
Phone: (518) 474-3271; Email:
Address: Office of the State Comptroller; Division of State Government Accountability; 110 State Street, 11th Floor; Albany, NY 12236